Ella’s Island: Fresh “Combos”


A freshly baked version of a gross American version of a great Bavarian food. Based loosely on Alton Brown’s recipe (using his proportions anyway).


  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 envelope active/instant dry yeast
  • 5 scant cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 lb orange sharp cheddar
  • Ahead: Cube the cheddar and freeze it
  • Combine the warm water, sugar and kosher salt and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams.
    • This is the hardest step and most intimidating. Always check the expiration of the yeast you buy and always use instant. Even in the same package, I had one envelope that just didn’t foam at all — don’t blame yourself, it may just be dead. I started again, and envelope 2 was still alive and foamed perfectly.
  • Add the flour and butter and combine dough with your fingers.
  • Set aside in a warm place for an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees F and prepare your pan
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add the baking powder
  • Shape the dough, in this case I made munchkin shaped pretzels and stuffed them with the frozen cheddar cubes
  • Pretzels should be dipped into boiling water for 30 seconds or until they float, and then put on the baking pan. It’s easiest to do a few at a time.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Egg wash helps brown them, coarse salt is traditional.
  • Serve warm.
  • Mmmmm. German.

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